February 7, 2008 § 2 Comments
When Brian and I got married, it was with the understanding that I had pinned all of my hopes, dreams and ambitions on the city of Chicago and all of its treasures. We were young and he must have been smitten to blindly accept such a venture. We laugh now at how quickly we pulled up our tiny stakes from the middle of Perrysburg, Ohio and hit the road. We had nothing. The sum total of our belongings fit in two cars and a tiny U-Haul.
Our apartment was a studio rehab with no air conditioning and a stunning view of three dumpsters in the alley. The apartment broker had assured us that the Edgewater neighborhood was rapidly improving and was hot and up and coming. To hear him talk, we were getting in on the ground floor of the next Greenwich Village. In what could only have been described as “most outstanding acheivement in interior design,”, the “closet” of the two room studio was six feet deep and twelve feet long, opening into the bathroom. To us, it was a master suite. Our mattress and box spring slid perfectly against three walls, and for dramatic effect our clothes hung on a rod, tickling our feet as we slept. One couch, three local channels, no jobs and $700. My grandmother in the suburbs gave us a package of frozen bratwurst and a bag of buns to see us through the lean times.
But we learned the city quickly. We bought rolls of tokens and took the el downtown. We learned to not wear open toed sandals on Bryn Mawr, to silently walk around the young man defecating in the corner of the train station rather than scream out for some semblance of decorum. We stocked our fridge, paid our bills and survived a heat wave that killed nearly a thousand people by taking ice cold showers before bed and diving between the sheets soaking wet while fans blew over our heads.
It wasn’t until October (months after our arrival) that I realized we’d done it. We were grown up adults on our own in the greatest city in the nation. We were walking hand in hand that day. The sky was a beautiful shade of blue, the first crayon you’d pick from the pack. At home, chili was bubbling away in a crock pot and we were carrying a thick Sunday paper that we’d bought on our way home from church. It was football Sunday. We would cuddle up in our big girl pants with a blanket and enjoy our day off. I was so content with so little, so comfortable on a hand me down couch, so satisfied with ground chuck. I have truly never wanted for much, and at that moment – I had it all.